At Death’s Door


 
This time she opted to slit her wrists, using a sharp, thin blade with a jeweled hilt. She always did have a flair for the dramatic.

Some would call it madness or desperation. Others would say it is mere foolishness from a weak-hearted woman. Perhaps some would consider her brave. Certainly many would attribute it to loneliness.

But for her it was and will always be…

…an act of love.


Her eyes fluttered open to see her husband hovering by their couch, watching her prone form. Tears gathered in her eyes as she studied his familiar figure. His was an elegant sort of beauty, with a lean, graceful build, skin as white as marble, hair as dark as the night, and black, fathomless eyes that saw too much, and yet failed to recognize that which lay before him. His hand reached down to cup her cheek. His palm was ice cold and she struggled not to flinch.

She sensed the warmth slowly seep through his body as his skin came in contact with hers. In the next moment, he was no longer quite as pale. Awareness and recognition dawned in his eyes. She saw it right before he enfolded her in his embrace.

“I missed you,” he said.

“And I you,” she replied tremulously. “How long can you stay?”

“Not long. War has broken out in the East again and I must…” He trailed off as he saw the dining table, which had been carefully set for two, over her shoulder. “…I suppose I could stay – at least for dinner,” he amended.

She smiled broadly as she stood and led him to the table. They maintained a light conversion, full of affection and laughter. There was no room for any dark, angry, or sad thoughts during these stolen moments.

And much later, as they stood by the doorway of their cottage to say their goodbyes, they parted as they always did – with a tender kiss and a promise of tomorrow.

He slowly stepped back from her embrace, his hands running down her arms, reluctant to let her go. He paused as he reached her wrists. Her wounds were healing well, though they would likely form scars.

“Perhaps something less gruesome next time?” he chided.

“I’m sorry…” she said, abashed. “I’m striving to be inventive. It’s become like a game to me – thinking up new ways to force you to come home.”

“I suppose I cannot fault you for that,” he said ruefully. He regarded her quietly for a moment, his eyes sad. And then: “I really must go now.” There was a wealth of regret in his tone.

The temptation to cling to him, to bind him to her side, dangled tantalizingly before her. But he knew his duty, as did she. She let her arms fall to her sides, releasing him.

Like all dutiful wives, she saw him off with a smile even though her heart splintered into a million pieces, knowing that with each step he took, the cold would again overcome him and she would once more be far from his sight and mind. But such was her fate and she had long accepted it.

For she was no ordinary homemaker.

She was Death’s wife, the keeper of his heart.